Sunday, October 22, 2017

A New York Stare of Mind

By Nicholas Stix
Spring, 1993
A Different Drummer magazine

As I get settled in my subway seat, I notice the young man sitting opposite staring at me. He’s a handsome, sleek, black fellow in his 20’s, about a foot taller than me. His sharp features betray no anger. On the contrary, if anything he looks to be goofing on me.

I return his stare, if for no other reason than to show that I can. After a few seconds, I concede the game to him. I don’t smile, I don’t consciously avoid his glance. A few years ago, I would have played out the stare down, till one of us blinked or smiled or looked away. Now I have more important things to do, like finish the book I brought with me.

Upon breaking sight, I notice for the first time that he’s a street character, dressed in shabby jeans, maybe homeless.

The first time I heard the “rule” about avoiding eye contact, it was from my college neighbor, Cindy. That was about 15 years ago. Back then, it wasn’t “eye contact” you were supposed to avoid, but eye contact with “black men.” Cindy said it straight.

In recent years, I’ve heard middle-class whites repeat Cindy’s rule like a mantra. Last year, Saturday Night Live even worked it into a sketch – a New York City official peddled a booklet, How to Avoid Eye Contact in New York City. Nowadays, the “black man” part is left unspoken. What the hell, it’s not as if the black middle-class isn’t just as afraid as their white counterparts of the stares of poor, young black men.

Cindy was a nice Jewish girl from lily-white Sheepshead Bay. I’m Jewish, too, but my Long Beach, Long Island neighborhood was equal parts white, black, and “Spanish,” as we said in those days of politically incorrect speech.

As a teenager, Cindy hadn’t had any black friends. As a token white in a black youth program, I’d spent more time with black than with white kids. I had black friends and black enemies. Of course, the “color bar” made everything different, and last I noticed, it was as thick as ever.

It’s not like Long Beach didn’t have racial tensions, and the occasional race riot. In general, we had two kinds of race relations: tense and explosive. A microcosm of New York, we were a system of ghettoes – some golden, some rusty – at war with each other. There was none of New York’s anonymous hatred, no sir. When I got mugged, I enjoyed the virtues of familiarity: “Oh, it’s you, Tyrone!” Safe among ourselves, my older sister and I mimicked the tough black girls on the school bus: “What are you lookin’ at, gir-r-rl!” Of course, nobody had looked at anyone.

During nine years split between colleges in New York and West Germany, eye contact wasn’t an issue. The exception involved a couple of punks riding the Munich subway in the spring of 1985. They wore sweat suits, the international subway muggers’ uniform. [Postscript: They may have been Turks.]

When I returned to the U.S. in the late summer of 1985, the Bernard Goetz case was the “Divisive Racial Case” of the moment.

Late one spring evening in 1986, I boarded a Brooklyn-bound Lexington Avenue train. Although the train was packed, I was the only white face. (Where were all the white “liberals” from Brooklyn Heights and the Slope?)

The teenaged black girl sitting opposite had her eyes locked on me. I joined her for a stare down—and won. As I reached for my pen to record the goings-on, my vanquished foe sounded mock alarms to her girlfriends. “Uh-oh, he’s going to ‘Goetz’ us. He’s gonna kill us with his …” watching me reach inside my pocket, “pen!,” exploding in teenaged laughter and giggles.

In the summer of 1987, I was again a token white in a roomful of blacks. Newswoman Carol Jenkins was about to interview politicians Roy Innis and Rev. Al Sharpton. While watching the equipment men set up, I felt eyes upon me, and they weren’t the eyes of Texas. At the far end of the room, Reverend Al was staring away at me. I met, I stared, I conquered. Then Sharpton gave me a big smile. Though we were never introduced and didn’t exchange word one, I’ve been convinced ever since that there’s some humanity deep down in Reverend Al, no matter what the rest of the world says. [Not anymore, I’m not.]

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve lost a few stare-downs in my day, usually after a rough night. But I’m not about to announce them to the world.

As the B train pulls into my stop, I look for the street guy. Maybe we’ll lock eyes once more, for old times’ sake. But no, he’s stretched out asleep on his seat, likewise busy with more important things.


Anonymous said...

jerry pdx
I'm the kind of white man that gets the stare virtually every time I step outside and there are black men. It's relentless and incessant. I've never had a black woman try to stare me down. They give me appraising looks because I have a look that seems to appeal to them (though the interest is rarely returned), black men are sharply aware of that and are deeply resentful about it. Also, if you are athletic looking, have an appearance of education and intelligence, black men will be even more resentful toward you than most other whites. I'm not claiming great intelligence, I'll let my words and thought processes speak for that, I'll only claim moderate educational achievement and somewhat above average athletic ability, though I don't possess intimidating size (which emboldens negro bullies), but I do have an athletic physique and black men feel that athleticism is something that is their domain and they should always have that over whitey, when a white man might be better than them, they want to act out violently and prove they are stronger, usually acting out in racist violence. We've been seeing that dynamic playing out in professional sports for decades, mostly to the detriment of white athletes. When I outplayed blacks in basketball, which I often did, the elbows, pushing and cheap shots were often employed to put me in my place, with the background threat of their homeys dog piling on me if I used the same tactics.

It's not just a stare, I get the "threatening sound". Happened just today on the bus, I felt the dagger look from a negro male when I boarded and as I walked by him he emitted a threatening sounds, it's usually that or some unintelligible muttering sounds. I thought as I aged it would get better, they wouldn't care about an old man, but while I am 57 now, I can still pass for 20 yrs. younger, still have all my hair and that athletic high school build (due to daily 2 hr. workouts in the gym and good genetics), so the threats from black men still continue. I have stood up to them in the past and thanks to years of martial arts and boxing have no fear of physical confrontation but also realize you can have only so many fights with blacks before you, as a white, will be considered a racist irregardless that the blacks are always the instigators and the true racists.

According to liberal ideology, a white standing up to racist blacks = racist.

Even more important, though I may look younger when you're over 50 you don't even want to take a chance on getting injured. Plus when you're planning an early retirement and have been saving and planning for years to prepare you actually have something to lose, negroes rarely do and live only for seeing what they can take from whitey.

So basically you grit your teeth and put up with it because blacks, with nothing to lose, have the freedom to wage low intensity harassment against whites with impunity.

On top of all that, racist negro agitators get to coin absurdities like: "microaggressions", which get picked up by the media and turned into legitimate English words. What is ignored is the reality of "macroaggressions" against whites practiced by negroes on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

jerry pdx
Salon has released it's list of the top 25 acceptable "conservatives".
I hate to break it to you Nicholas, but you you didn’t make the cut. Personally, I think you should be honored. Any worthy conservative should be embarrassed as hell to be thought of as “acceptable” by “Salon”.

Here is an amusing take on the nonsense: